On 24 April 1932, groups of ramblers left Manchester and Sheffield for an organised trespass onto Kinder Scout, a moorland plateau in what is now the Peak District. There they clashed with gamekeepers sent by local landowners to keep people off their land. The clashes were violent and several of the ramblers were arrested and imprisoned, but over the following days and weeks much larger trespasses were held and public opinion started to sway in the trespassers’ favour.
Today, it’s possible to trace the Kinder Scout trespass as the start of an access movement that saw the establishment of National Parks, long distance footpaths including National Trails and finally, the Countryside and Rights of Way Act 2000 which granted unrestricted access to 10,000 square kilometres of countryside in England and Wales.
80 years on, we wanted to recognise the legacy of the Kinder Scout trespass. In April 2012 we joined celebrations and commemorative walks that were part of the Kinder 80 Festival held in the Peak District but we wanted to make sure politicians were aware of the anniversary too.
We asked a small group of MPs to start a special ‘parliamentary petition’ that only MPs could sign. More than 2000 Ramblers members contacted their local MP, asking them to add their signature. The petition was eventually supported by almost 100 MPs from all political parties making it one of the most popular MP petitions of the year.
We achieved lots of coverage in the media including BBC Breakfast – which showed Ramblers Chief Executive Benedict Southworth retracing the footsteps of the trespassers – and national and regional newspapers. Kinder 80 also proved a hot topic of conversation on Twitter and Facebook.
As well as celebrating all that had been achieved in the eighty years since the Kinder Scout trespass, we also wanted to highlight the fact that – even today – there are too many places people still can’t walk. We produced a Kinder 80 map showing the places we still can’t access and to show what we’re doing to change this.